IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — Bureau of Land Management wildland firefighters Kris Bruington and Farron Kunkel were scheduled to return to the BLM Idaho Falls District Office on Thursday from fighting the Australian bushfires.
Bruington, a battalion chief, has 18 years of wildland fire experience. In addition to his responsibilities managing fires across eastern Idaho, he is an operations section chief for the Great Basin Type 2 Incident Management Team, which responds nationally to wildfires. Before working in Idaho Falls, he was the superintendent for the Lone Peak Hotshots crew in Utah.
During Bruington’s assignment to Victoria, Australia, he served as a Task Force Leader, overseeing 20 U.S. and Australian firefighters and their engines. They were responsible for backfiring control lines, structure protection, handline construction and hazardous tree removal on various fires across the East Gippsland region.
Kunkel, an engine captain, also has 18 years of wildland fire experience working for both the BLM and U.S. Forest Service. Kunkel has spent the majority of his fire career working on engines, but has also responded nationally to wildfires on handcrews and helicopter crews. He currently supervises the BLM engine model based out of Blackfoot.
Kunkel responded to the Australian bushfires as a member of a firefighting task force in the state of Victoria. The task force assisted Forest Fire Management Victoria, Country Fire Authority, and Rural Fire Service. In addition to fire suppression efforts, they protected residential properties and cleared roads of hazards to maintain public access.